The Center for Relationship and Sexual Recovery at The Ranch Enhances Treatment for Sex and Love Addiction with Programming for Disordered Eating

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The Center for Relationship and Sexual Recovery at The Ranch recently enhanced treatment for sex and love addiction with specialized programming for women who struggle with co-occurring disordered eating issues.

This program sends an important message to clients that cross addiction is common and not unexpected, and that there is a team of people to help them through it.

The Center for Relationship and Sexual Recovery (CRSR) at The Ranch reports a striking trend among women receiving treatment for sex, love and relationship addictions: A significant percentage – about 60 to 65 percent – also have symptoms of disordered eating. Although they are not actively bingeing, purging or restricting, they may have disordered eating patterns; for example, eating patterns that vary with the ups and downs of their relationships or underlying body image issues.

In response to this finding, The Ranch has incorporated specialized programming for disordered eating into its program for women with primary sex and intimacy disorders.

“After tracking the trend, we realized that if we can recognize the signs of cross addiction, train staff on behaviors to watch for and address these co-occurring issues as they arise, we can dramatically improve outcomes,” said Karen Brownd, CSAT, director of the Center for Relationship and Sexual Recovery at The Ranch.

With four nutritionists on staff, clients at The Ranch have always had access to nutritional support for medical issues, weight changes, nutritional deficiencies and other issues. Now, women in the Center for Relationship and Sexual Recovery have a designated nutritionist who works with them from the start of treatment so that any disordered eating issues are identified and addressed immediately. Women in the sex and love addiction program have access to:

  •     A comprehensive nutritional assessment that explores medical issues, body image, treatment history and disordered eating behaviors
  •     A follow-up session with the nutritionist to determine whether clients are in need of continued support for co-occurring disordered eating
  •     Weekly nutrition groups
  •     Weekly body image and dialectical behavior therapy groups, which are co-facilitated with a therapist
  •     Individualized fitness assessments and one-on-one sessions with a nutritionist trained in exercise physiology and exercise disorders

A key to the program’s success has been the close collaboration between treatment providers. The entire team, from the nutritionists and clinicians to the medical staff and residential assistants, works together to ensure each client receives integrated treatment for these interwoven addictions. If clients need more intensive eating disorder treatment, or have a primary eating disorder diagnosis, they can receive care in The Ranch’s primary eating disorder program.

“Most people have no idea that two seemingly separate problems can be so closely intertwined,” said Samantha Gordon, RD, LDN, the nutritionist dedicated to the women’s CRSR program. “Even among clients with a history of eating disorders, many do not realize that lingering disordered eating behaviors could be related to their relationships.”

Relationships overlap with disordered eating in complex ways.

“Although eating disorders appear to be about food and exercise, the underlying issues are the individual’s relationship with self and others and the way they communicate feelings through food,” said Lee Roach, MS, RD, LDN, nutrition and eating disorder consultant at The Ranch.

Developed by internationally known author, addiction specialist and educator Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S, the Center for Relationship and Sexual Recovery at The Ranch offers separate men’s and women’s residential treatment programs for sex, relationship and love addiction. Integrating programming for co-occurring disordered eating into the women’s sex and intimacy disorders program offers clients an even more powerful treatment experience.

“This program sends an important message to clients that cross addiction is common and not unexpected, and that there is a team of people to help them through it,” said Roach. “For clients, this approach normalizes their experience, resulting in less shame and greater insight into their behaviors.”

About The Ranch

Since 1997, The Ranch has provided comprehensive therapeutic programs that treat the underlying causes of eating disorders, addictions and other self-defeating behaviors. The Ranch offers innovative therapies to address the multidimensional aspects of the whole person while teaching personal accountability in a safe, nurturing, real-life environment. Located on a working horse ranch in the beautiful rolling hills of Nunnelly, Tennessee, The Ranch offers programs with a variable length of stay, which allows each client to anchor new recovery behaviors needed for lasting change. For more information about The Ranch, call (866) 381-8447 or visit

The Ranch is part of Elements Behavioral Health, a family of behavioral health care programs that also includes Promises Treatment Centers, The Sexual Recovery Institute, The Recovery Place, Spirit Lodge and Right Step. Elements offers comprehensive, innovative treatment for substance abuse, sexual addiction, trauma, eating disorders and other mental health disorders. We are committed to delivering clinically sophisticated treatment that promotes permanent lifestyle change, not only for the patient but for the entire family system. For more information about Elements Behavioral Health, visit

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Cheryl Brown
The Ranch
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